May 202011

So we made it to the airport, and first thing inside was a baggage scan – all bags went through, and soon we were in the check-in area which was absolutely mobbed. Took probably 30 minutes to get to the front of the queue, and check-in was taking place from a list of names that had been printed out…and they were checking them off! Based on the list, we were the only ones with prepaid and pre-assigned seats, so we were in 1A and 1C again.

Upstairs, into the security check, and some how these folks I think managed to be more efficient, more aware, and shockingly more respectful than the average TSA agent. Go figure! Then we were dumped in a giant holding room from where four flights were boarding. One was a domestic flight, another was a flight to Delhi on Ariana, and a fourth was headed to Karachi. Sharjah here we come. Continue reading »

May 182011

So let’s see….Sharjah Airport. After the manic taxi ride from Dubai we somehow made it there right around 70 minutes before departure…and Air Arabia’s website dictated a 60 minute cutoff for check-in. Oh, and it was 90 minutes with checked luggage…time to pray that the rollerboards wouldn’t be looked upon harshly.

So, if Dubai (and thus DXB) are Las Vegas in the desert, then Sharjah (and SHJ) is, hmm…well I could pretend to compare it to small airports in the southern U.S., but honestly even Memphis Airport looks like a cultural mecca. See, it’s important to know that Sharjah is one of (or maybe the only?) dry Emirate in the UAE…and also by far the most conservative. It’s also where many expats working in Dubai live since the cost of living is much much cheaper.

Anyways…the airport. Get inside, and run frantically over to the Air Arabia counters. Agents are surprised to see us, but when they hear “Kabul” they get surprised…and very friendly. “Are you SURE you are on flight to Kabul?” Yes yes, baggage carry-on no problem, go go, you are fine.

So, with that we’re off through UAE emmigration, no problems at all. Have to give a HUGE ^^^ to the Air Arabia staff. Friendly, efficient, and smiling. U.S. airlines could learn from these guys…and this is a low cost carrier! Continue reading »

May 182011

Ok, so where were we…ah yes, I remember…the dark, dank and crowded mess known as the non-premium terminal of the Doha airport about to get on Fly Dubai…a no-frills low-cost airline from a definite no-frills terminal.

Check-in itself actually wasn’t bad. We had prepaid something like 10 Dirhams (around $3 US) each for reserved seating to make sure we at least ended up on the same row. 2A and 2C had no extra legroom promised, but it was a small price to pay to be in the front of the plane. Plus, if the flight didn’t get too full who would want 2B?

Check-in was quite efficient, and no complaint at all about having rather largish rolling bags. Passport control was a mob scene, but still probably no more than 10 minute queue. This was also the first place I noticed a “women’s only” lane where they could go to lift up their niqab to match their passport pictures without being seen by strange men. Continue reading »